Late last week, a bill that would enable state-funded private adoption agencies in Virginia to refuse placements on the basis of their religious or moral beliefs, including banning placements with same-sex couples passed the state House of Delegates by a vote of 71 to 28. The Virginia Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee also endorse the bill, and it is likely to appear on the state Senate floor for a vote this week. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell indicated that he would sign the bill, if it is passed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Leslie Cooper, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), stated, “It’s a license for child welfare agencies to make bad decisions based on their own religious beliefs rather than the child’s needs.”

Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) criticized the bill on the grounds that the private agencies contract with the state government and thus as recipients of state funding, should not be permitted to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville) added, “I will listen to the arguments and try to understand what the rationale behind it is…but I’m not include to support discrimination or use of tax dollars to support discrimination.” If the bill becomes law, Virginia would be the second state, following North Dakota, to allow private agencies to refuse placements on the basis sexual orientation.

Washington Post 2/7/12; Associated Press 2/4/12